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    Economic data drive markets as oil advances

    US stocks closed higher on Monday for a fifth session in a row as investor fears about US economy slipping into recession subsided after recent positive reports. The dollar weakened, live dollar index data indicate the ICE US Dollar Index, a measure of the dollar’s value against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.3% to 97.071. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% to 17073.95. Chevron, Caterpillar and Exxon Mobil were the best performers among the Dow components. The S&P 500 advanced less than 0.1% to 2001.76 with six of the ten major sectors closing in positive territory. After closing higher for three weeks the broad market index has pared losses to 2.1% year-to-date from more than 10% this year. Technology stocks closed lower, dragged down by losses in Netflix, Facebook, Alphabet and Apple. Netflix tumbled 6%, Facebook was down 2.5% after announcement on Friday the company will boost tax payments in the UK. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, fell 2.1% and Apple lost 1.1%. The Nasdaq Composite index finished 0.2% lower. About 9 billion shares were traded on US exchanges, compared with the 8.8 billion average in the past 20 sessions. Today at 12:00 CET National Federation of Independent Business February Small Business Index will be released. The tentative outlook is positive.

    European stocks ended lower on Monday as market sentiment was undermined by weak economic data from Germany and concerns about European Central Bank stimulus effectiveness. The euro strengthened ahead of ECB meeting on Thursday, as traders positioned ahead of the meeting in case new stimulus measures fall short of expectations. It is anticipated that ECB will cut the deposit rate from current minus 0.3% but estimates vary about the magnitude of the cut. It is widely expected ECB will lower the bank’s deposit rate by 10 basis points and expand its monthly asset purchases program. Over the weekend the Bank for International Settlements warned central bank stimulus may have less effect on financial markets as evidenced by the volatility in the past few months. The Stoxx Europe 600 closed down 0.25%. Germany's DAX 30 lost 0.46% settling at 9778.93 after a report manufacturing orders in Germany fell 0.1% in January from December. France's CAC 40 lost 0.32% and UK’s FTSE 100 closed down 0.27%. Today at 11:00 CET fourth quarter GDP will be released in euro-zone. The tentative outlook is neutral.

    Asian stocks were retreating today after data showed China's February exports fell 25.4% from a year earlier, while imports fell 13.8 %, contracting for 16th month in a row. Nevertheless Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.09%. Nikkei closed 0.8% lower today as yen weakened against the dollar, dragging exporter stocks lower.

    Oil futures prices are edging lower today after closing at their highest settlement of the year on Monday. May Brent crude rose 5.5% to $$40.84 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange.

    Copper is falling today together with iron ore futures which fell more than 6% today after spot iron ore price rallied almost 20% to a near nine-month high yesterday on the back of China's plans to boost the GDP by at least 6.5% a year until 2020.

    Gold futures are edging higher after gold for April delivery fell 0.5% to $1,264 an ounce on Comex exchange on Monday following a 4.1% rally last week.


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